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I think one of the hardest things for a writer is discipline. If you’re serious about writing—like I am—then you’ll set a schedule for yourself. Stephen King says ‘If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write.’ That’s true. You need to read a lot and write a lot and, mainly, you have to set aside time for the art and craft of writing.

Many people out there, frankly, call themselves writers but don’t actually write very often. That’s fine. I’m not judging here or talking trash about those people. Do what feels right for you, always. What I am saying is that, again, If you’re a serious writer who wants to get published in today’s tough marketplace, then you seriously need to find that discipline and run with it.

My advice is to set aside an hour each morning. Start with that, or even forty-five minutes. Turn the inner critic off. Let go of the editor’s brain; allow yourself to simply write. Maybe you write about your work day yesterday, maybe you write about your kids, your husband or wife, your education, your personal issues, your internal struggles, your pain, your love, etc. It doesn’t matter. The point is to get that pen moving or those fingers typing each and every morning. Or middle of the day, or night, or whatever works for you with your particular schedule.

Nicholas Sparks, author of The Notebook, says that if you are a serious writer you will write every day. He says he wrote several ‘starter’ books that will probably never get published because he simply needed to get them out of his creative womb and experience what it was like to write a novel-length work. I have done the same. I have written five full-length novels to date. My suspense novel is ready. This time I have done the editing, rewriting, and revisions, and I know the market. I’ve done my query, synopsis, and have researched prospective appropriate potential literary agents and know what to say. I am excited by this!

One of the key things I can relate about writing a book is that it takes time and patience. I wrote this current book three and a half years years ago. I have been editing, revising, redrafting, etc, since then. Originally I wrote the first draft in about nine months. About a year ago, I received some harsh criticism on the book and decided, partially as a result, to go back in and edit. I ended up rewriting the entire book. Yup. From start to finish. It was really fun, actually, but I then ended up with 110,000 words, which is way too long for a [debut] novel. So I went back in and cut. Anything not directly moving the plot/story forward, I cut. Now it’s down to 87,000 I love watching a book whittle down to its appropriate size; it’s a fun experience.

If you are an aspiring writer with a novel or memoir and need help with it or just need a new, fresh pair of professional eyes, please contact me. I am a freelance [developmental] book editor and former literary agent’s assistant. As a published writer myself (see my fiction at Alfie Dog Press), I know what it takes to get your work tight. As a former lit agent’s assistant, I know what agents’ seek and how their brains’ work.

Email me your project and a query if you have one to: Make sure to check out the EFA (Editorial Freelancers Association) for pro rates and other info helpful to writers, as well as Preditors and Editors, a site that keeps us all honest by exposing fraudulent agents, editors, and publishers out there. Never pay an agent money! They get paid via your advance and royalties (a percentage).

Write on.

“You said it. Let’s edit.”

Michael Mohr

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